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Bangkok Itinerary for 5 Days + Planning Guide

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If you plan to do any traveling in Southeast Asia, chances are, you’ll end up in Bangkok at some point. Luckily for you, Bangkok is a beautiful city with so much to see that no one will get to it all in one lifetime. That’s the exact reason I ended up in Bangkok for 5 days on my own itinerary!

Regardless of whether you’re here on a long layover or plan to stay a while, visiting Bangkok is worthy of your bucket list. 

Here is a 5-day itinerary for visiting Bangkok, Thailand, and all the info you need for transport, accessing your money, having phone service, where to stay, what to eat, and what to see in the city!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase any of the products or services from the links below, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products and services I love!

Airport Transfer in Bangkok

Because Bangkok is such a large city, there’s a high chance your accommodations are far from the airport. In order to reach the city center from BKK, you have many options. 

1 // Public transportation

This is the method I used, and the one I recommend, especially if you travel carry-on only. If you checked a large suitcase, it may be too much hassle for yourself and the other passengers to take public transportation. 

In Bangkok, the subway system is called the MRT. The blue line makes a loop around the entire city, with several stations offering connections to other MRT lines and other train systems. 

If you want to take the MRT from Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK), you’ll need to follow the signs to the MRT station in the basement.

Withdraw some cash first, because the ticket machines don’t accept cards! If you can, get 100 baht bills, since the ticket machines cannot take 500s or 1000s. If you only have large bills, purchase your token from the attendant.

Once you pay your fare, you can tap your token on the reader and walk to the station platforms. Transfers are not included, so you’ll need to buy a second token if you need to transfer to another line. 

2 // Grab

Grab is the most popular rideshare app in Southeast Asia. You can select a Grab car, Grab taxi, and even a Grab motorbike. Like Uber and Lyft, Grab prices depend heavily on demand. For this reason, prices may be high when you leave the airport.

If you have large checked luggage, or are too exhausted to entertain the thought of public transportation, check out Grab’s estimates for your ride through Google Maps. 

If your driver takes too long to arrive, you can cancel your Grab with no cancellation fee. You don’t need a credit card on file to use the app, and you can pay your driver in cash.

3 // Pre-booked transport

Many hotels will offer to book your airport transfer for an extra fee, and may even include airport pick-up in the price of your reservation. If it’s unclear on your confirmation and their website, call or email them before your flight to ask if they have an airport shuttle!

If you’re interested in a shared or private airport transfer apart from your accommodation, there are multiple companies in Bangkok that offer this. Reputable companies include: Tommy Taxi, Transfer BKK, Somchai Taxi, and Taxi Airport Bangkok.

4 // Taxi

Taxi is the option I am least likely to choose, but it’s available. If you don’t want to book a transfer in advance, take public transportation, or use Grab, there are many taxi drivers in the official airport taxi line who will drop you off at your accommodation.

Price should not exceed 300 baht for a 30-minute ride to the city, including the 50 baht airport fee. Make sure the meter is turned on before the ride begins!

green tuk tuk in Bangkok

What about Don Mueang airport (DMK)?

For those of you flying into Don Mueang, you can take the train, get a Grab or taxi, or pre-book your transfer. If you want a driver, you can follow the same instructions as above to hire one at the airport. If you want to take the train, here’s how:

  1. Walk from the airport to the Don Mueang train station, operated by State Railways of Thailand.
  2. Buy your ticket to Bang Sue station from the ticket counter. Cost is only 3 baht!
  3. From Bang Sue station, walk to the MRT blue line (also called Bang Sue).
  4. Take the MRT to any city station you need to reach your hotel, hostel, or Airbnb.

One caveat about the train: this train runs on a timetable that is very limited in comparison with the MRT. I waited at the train station for 1 hour before the train bound for the airport arrived. 

It’s 100% worth it, though! I paid 3 baht to ride from Bang Sue Junction to the airport, which would have cost over 100 baht in a taxi.

Here are the times the train leaves Don Mueang station bound for Bangkok city:

  • 7:52 am
  • 9:14 am
  • 10:31 am
  • 11:40 am
  • 3:19 pm
  • 6:46 pm
  • 8:07 pm
  • 8:23 pm
  • 8:33 pm
  • 9:01 pm
  • 10:49 pm
train ticket for the State Railway of Thailand, taken in Bangkok's Bang Sue station

Withdrawing Money from the ATM

Accessing cash in local currency can be one of the most frustrating aspects of international travel. It used to be the same for me. Now, that’s no longer the case.

Why? Because I opened a checking account with Charles Schwab. I use my Charles Schwab debit card exclusively for withdrawing cash internationally. Perks include:

  • No foreign transaction fees,
  • No ATM fees ever, and
  • ATM fee rebates worldwide!

I have saved hundreds of dollars just through using this card. By the way, this isn’t an ad! I just really love Schwab, and I know they can help you as much as they’ve helped me.

In Thailand, ATMs are everywhere. This is super convenient, because you’ll need cash to purchase just about anything. However, the average ATM fee is 220 baht, which is roughly $8 USD. 

It is by far the most expensive ATM fee I’ve ever seen. Because I use my Schwab debit, I get that $8 back every time I withdraw money! 

IMPORTANT: Whenever you’re at the ATM, it will ask if you want the ATM’s currency conversion rate or not. My answer is always NO! ATM conversion rates are rarely in your favor. If you deny it, your debit card company will automatically convert it for you using the real exchange rate.

That being said, I also recommend to avoid exchange desks at all costs. Most currency exchange offices charge exorbitant fees to exchange foreign currencies into Thai baht. 

Phone Service

When I’m traveling, I use my phone for everything. Currency conversion, Google Maps, social media, messaging, calling home. I am very dependent on phone service when I travel!

Here are your options to have cell phone service, including data, when you visit Bangkok:

1 // Google Fi

Before, I would keep my phone on airplane mode for the entire trip. This does not bode well when local WiFi is slow or won’t work at all. 

Now, I have Google Fi. It has worked perfectly with my iPhone 11, and I’m never going back. Ever. 

I’ve had data and phone service the whole time I’ve been outside of the U.S., for just $20/month plus $10/gig of data! I’m covered in over 100+ countries, and roaming does not cost extra.

If you’re even a little bit interested, sign up. Google Fi will send you a sim card for free. You don’t get charged until 2 days after you activate it. 

If you plan to use it during your trip to Thailand, activate it in the U.S. first!

2 // Local sim cards

Local businesses sell Thai sim cards everywhere in Bangkok. You can get one for $15 with plenty of data for just $10 per month. This is a great deal if you want to keep your phone provider at home and you’re only visiting Thailand on your trip to Southeast Asia!

Before you try this route, you must make sure your phone is unlocked! Reach out to your provider at home to find out. 

3 // International data with your provider at home

This is what I used to do as a study abroad student. I would activate TravelPass and have an international plan through Verizon Wireless. 

My data worked pretty well, but these expenses added up quickly! It’s worth checking into with your provider at home if your trip is short, though.

{Psst! If you’re figuring out everything you need to do before your vacation to Thailand (ex. pick a travel and health insurance plan, research visa requirements and vaccines, etc.), my post on how to prepare for international travel will help.}

Where to Stay in Bangkok

Hostel: Siamaze Hostel

I found Siamaze on Hostelworld and I’m so glad I did! It’s a bright, airy hostel with free breakfast, a great downstairs area to do work or just chill, and an assortment of rooms to choose from.

My friend and I opted to share a private twin room with a private bathroom, and enjoyed our stay so much that we went back!

The staff are very friendly and do everything in their power to make your stay wonderful. Extras include luggage storage (in a locked room), free Monday cooking classes, free Wednesday fitness classes, and free Friday night barbecues.

Note: if you pay on arrival, using a credit card will cost you a 3% fee. Also, the reception will ask for a 100 baht key deposit. You’ll get your 100 baht back when you return your key at check-out!

The only cons are the beds are a bit hard (which is the norm in Asia relative to other regions of the world) and the WiFi can be weak. Aside from these two things, my stay was perfect!

Airbnb: Paddle Home in a local neighborhood

Before leaving the U.S. for my trip to Thailand, I found this Airbnb while researching accommodations and fell in love.

I wanted to see a more local side of Bangkok and stay in a house for at least a couple of nights, and this place was perfect.

The host Chakkaphan, provides wonderful local recommendations and truly makes this experience amazing! He even picked us up and dropped us off at the MRT station so we wouldn’t have to walk with our luggage.

It’s near the MRT and the floating market, with easy access to Bangkok’s top attractions like The Grand Palace. It felt like seeing two very different sides of Bangkok to come back to the paddle home after a day of sightseeing in the center.

The WiFi is very fast, coffee and tea are included, and the A/C is very strong and cool!

This is one of the best Airbnbs I’ve ever stayed in, and I would absolutely stay again.

You can get up to $55 off Airbnb with my link!

Hotel: Aim House Bangkok Hotel

On my way out of Thailand (cue tears…) I stayed at Aim House Hotel near ICONSIAM, in my favorite area of Bangkok. I found this place on Agoda, which is my favorite hotel booking website for Southeast Asia especially.

What immediately got me was the beautiful photos of the hotel, and the amazing low price of just $18 per night!

The beds are the most comfortable I slept in during my two weeks in Thailand, the lobby is a great place to get some work done, and it’s less than a 10-minute walk from ICONSIAM. There’s even a tea shop down the street with the best prices I’ve seen in Bangkok (18 baht for tea plus 5 baht for bubbles or jelly).

I would gladly stay here again!

Pro tip: You can find unbelievable deals on Agoda for local boutique hotels, just like I do! My favorite thing about search engines like this one is that I’m able to stay at properties that are locally-owned and operated, which I may not have found otherwise.

Getting Around the City

You have 6 main options for getting around Bangkok:

  1. MRT and Skytrains
  2. Grab
  3. Walking
  4. Tuk tuk
  5. Taxi
  6. Rent a car or motorbike

Because I use public transportation when I travel, I’ll elaborate on the MRT and Skytrain systems.

To purchase a ticket, you can go to a self-service kiosk or to the attendants in each station. You’ll have to walk through a security scanner and a security guard may ask you to open a larger backpack, purse, or a suitcase if you have one.

At the kiosk or counter, you’ll need to pick a destination station and then you’ll pay based upon the distance. Use Google Maps to figure out which station is closest to where you want to go!

MRT rides are very affordable. Both the trains and stations are very clean, and air conditioned. I spent roughly $3 per day on transit with taking the MRT often. For single journeys, you will pay your fare and receive a token in return. In order to leave at your exit station, you’ll have to insert the token to be let out.

token for the MRT, Bangkok

Another form of public transit in Bangkok is the Skytrain. These run throughout the city just like the MRT, except you will receive a card to tap on the turnstiles for entry instead of a token. Upon exit, you’ll have to insert the card into the turnstile in order to leave the station.

BTS metro card, Bangkok

Bangkok Itinerary for 5 Days: What to See + Do

Day 1 // Take a walking tour

One of the first things I love to do in a destination that’s new to me is try a walking tour. Local guides have a wealth of knowledge they’re eager to share about the cities they call home, and their recommendations can truly make your stay great!

Free walking tours are a great way to see the city, and you pay what you think the experience was worth in the form of a tip.

Check out FREETOUR.com for tons of awesome free tour options!

Flowers on the street with bustling Bangkok traffic in the background

Day 2 // Eat and shop at a night market

Talad Rot Fai Train Night Market Ratchada: This was the first night market I ever visited in Southeast Asia.

WOW.

I absolutely loved it! There are tons of vendors everywhere selling bubble tea, spring rolls, pad thai, purses, jewelry, clothes, shoes, and anything else you can think of. There’s also live music, which provides a nice backdrop.

metal lanterns shaped like giraffes in the Ratchada train night market, Bangkok

ICONSIAM Night Market: This night market is most lively on weekends, but there are still several vendors with delicious food on weeknights.

One of the best coconut ice creams I’ve ever had was in this night market. It cost only 60 baht and came inside a coconut, with mango pieces, coconut cubes that burst with flavor, and mango sticky rice toppings. Yum!

coconut ice cream with mango pieces at the night market in ICONSIAM, Bangkok

Day 3 // Stroll through The Grand Palace

I’ve seen the beauty of European castles, but nothing compares to the architecture of Asian palaces and temples. The Grand Palace in Bangkok was at the top of my list for this 5-day itinerary, and it more than exceeded my expectations!

If you plan to visit the Palace, make sure you cover your shoulders and knees. I prefer to wear flowy pants and a comfortable top with sleeves in order to stay cool in the heat and dress appropriately for entry to palaces and temples.

If you don’t have anything like that with you, the Palace offers a skirt and shawl in exchange for a photo ID. You’ll get your ID back when you return the clothes.

Within The Grand Palace, you can see stunning architecture, statues, and a Reclining Buddha. Please be respectful when you take photos, as this is a very sacred site for many locals.

It is a very enjoyable visit at just 200 baht and you can learn so much about local culture by observing how the royals are honored through this place.

Your ticket will also include a free bottle of cold water, and there are refill stations within the Palace grounds. When you enter any temples within the Palace, you’ll be asked to remove your shoes and there will be a bag provided for you to place them in and carry with you.

The Grand Palace is a wonderful place to see beauty and transport yourself back in time. You must go when you visit Bangkok!

The Grand Palace in Bangkok

Day 4 // See the Pak Khlong Flower Market + Chinatown

The Bangkok flower market was my favorite part of visiting this beautiful city. When I visited this market, I was very stressed due to my laptop having some issues (which were later resolved) and I stopped by the flower market on my way to the Apple Store.

The market caused all those fears and concerns to melt away. I was in another world, full of vendors chatting amongst themselves with stunning blooms and bulbs on display as far as the eye can see.

I couldn’t stop taking photos, looking at the different types of flowers, and thinking to myself: This is what travel’s about. It’s about moments like these.

Just do yourself a favor and go. You won’t regret it!

Bangkok’s Chinatown is another area you should see before you leave. It’s known to offer some of the best foods in the city at its market. There was interesting architecture everywhere, and so many kind people. One elderly man saw my friend and I, and pointed us towards where all the good food is. So sweet of him!

flower market in Bangkok
flower market in Bangkok

Day 5 // Shop for souvenirs in one of Bangkok’s many shopping malls

ICONSIAM: This is the absolute most beautiful mall I’ve ever been to in my entire life. Period.

True to its name, this mall is iconic in every way.

The public bathrooms look like spas, the basement area is a market complete with floating boat food stalls, seating areas, ornate elephant statues, and the rest of the building is full of luxury stores. There’s even a patio on the river where you can watch the sunset!

ICONSIAM shopping mall in Bangkok

MBK: MBK is another shopping mall in Bangkok that provides an interesting cultural experience. Bartering and exploring the stalls in this mall should be on any Bangkok itinerary!

MBK is like a night market inside a shopping mall with multiple floors. There are storefronts, there’s a food court, and there are vendor stalls. It’s common to haggle for a good deal.

You can find just about anything at MBK, from elephant pants to an iPhone 11. Even if you’re not interested in buying anything, it’s worth a stop for people watching!

MBK Center shopping mall in Bangkok

Where to Eat Amazing Vegan Food in Bangkok!

Ruyi Vegetarian: Ruyi Vegetarian was the first vegan restaurant I went to in Thailand. The menu is expansive with tons of mock meat dishes that I was dying to taste.

This place is in an alley with local and international customers. I loved my dish, a “chicken” and veggie stir-fry with rice, and the intimate feel of the restaurant.

The best part? I only paid 50 baht for my meal and iced tea was included for free! I’ll definitely be back to this place on a return visit to Bangkok.

Khun Aeo Vegetarian Restaurant: This little place is tucked inside Huai Kwang Market, with 10+ delicious options every day! I loved my visit, and this is my go-to place when I’m in east Bangkok.

The ladies that work here are so sweet, and will go out of their way to help you. I got a mock shredded beef made of mushrooms over brown rice, with a cabbage soup on the side. That cabbage and tofu soup was the best I’ve ever had!

The prices are excellent, and there is a selection of sauces you can add to your plate once you get it.

This place is hard to beat, from the prices, to the amazing tastes and textures, to the friendliness of the staff!

pad thai in Bangkok, Thailand
I also had my first plate of traditional pad thai at a little restaurant near The Grand Palace! (Tofu, no egg, of course!)

. . .

Bangkok is a culmination of new world and old world, of the traditional and the modern cosmopolitan, of ultra-wealth and ultra-budget.

Let’s just say my itinerary for 5 days in Bangkok ended up feeling short, even though I actually extended my stay there!

It’s the most unique city I’ve ever had the pleasure to visit, and should be on anyone’s must-visit list when going to Thailand.

My itinerary for 5 days in Bangkok is the first of many times I plan to be in this beautiful, chaotic, one-of-a-kind city. There’s so much to explore, and an adventure to be had at any moment!

What’s on your Bangkok itinerary?

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Background: The Grand Palace in Bangkok
Text: How to Plan Your First Trip to Bangkok

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